WPR Articles 31 Dec 2011 - 06 Jan 2012
Last year was a tough one in terms of global economics, humanitarian disasters and political leadership among the world's great powers. But it was also the year of the Arab Spring and hints of similar developments in Myanmar, Russia and Ethiopia. So while the year's "fundamentals" weren't so good, it left us with plenty to be grateful for. Keeping all that in mind, here is my foreign policy wish list for 2012.
The past year was an eventful one for NATO, but despite the success of the alliance's intervention in Libya, persistent problems will continue to affect trans-Atlantic defense relations in the New Year. The U.S. will need to redouble its efforts to get European member states to commit resources to defense capabilities, with the NATO Summit this May providing an opportunity for high-level attention to the issue.
Since the end of the Cold War, the Russian arms industry has sustained itself by arming China and India. However, this situation is almost certainly unsustainable in the long run, as both countries appear to be outgrowing their dependence on the Russian military-industrial complex. This will spell trouble for Russia, which has had great difficulty developing exports based on anything other than arms or energy.
The ongoing transformation of the Middle East has affected every government and every political organization in the region. In the case of Hamas, the Arab Spring has brought a disorienting combination of extremely good and extremely bad news. Hamas now faces a starkly different world with conflicting forces at play. More importantly for the Hamas leadership, it must urgently make some very difficult decisions.
According to an unconfirmed report this week, Vice President Joe Biden has been tasked with overseeing U.S.-China relations. While improvements at the margins can be expected, Biden’s appointment is unlikely to achieve any major breakthroughs. In part, this is because some fundamental U.S. and Chinese interests are at loggerheads, and even an improved dialogue mechanism cannot bridge the divide.